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“I Wipe My Hands On My Pants” Dinner Napkins

February 16, 2011

After messy meals I wipe my hands on my pants and t-shirts.  That is, I have transformed my old clothing and forgotten fabric into dinner napkins!  The black and red fabric was my pants, the grey napkins are from an old college club T-shirt, and the blue plaid is from fabric that has been sitting in a box in the garage for the past decade.

The inspiration came for this project from a desire to rid myself of paper products around the kitchen.  I stay away from paper napkins at the dinner table if I don’t need a napkin, but I do catch myself grabbing one-too-many paper towels when I’m cooking or cleaning in the kitchen.  I suppose the guilt has just been building, to the point where I decided to upcycle some old clothing and make small fabric dinner napkins for everyday use around the kitchen.  I would really like to find some kind of nifty holder for them, and use them frequently instead of all the kitchen paper products.  When my boyfriend and I move into our new place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in about a month, we’ll put an extra bin next to the trash can to throw dirty fabric napkins in after each use.  Then I’ll just toss them in with the rest of the laundry at the end of each week!

If we can make it a habit to use these all the time we’ll save money from purchasing less paper products, but we can also feel a little less terrible about harming the environment after each disposable paper sheet.  I’ll make some large, fancy napkins to coordinate with my tablecloths and everything once it’s time for that, but I didn’t think too much about color coordinating for everyday purposes.  Besides, I kind of like the eclectic look.

Now, here’s how I made them.

1. I used a ruler to make my 7-inch square pattern.  After you finnish the edges, the napkins end up being a bit over 5 inches, so increase your square size if you want larger napkins.

2.  Pin your pattern to your fabric, and cut it out.

3.  I used this tutorial from Skip to my Lou in order to learn how to make mitered edges, as I did not know beforehand.  Its pretty easy but a little time consuming.  That’s why it’s a good idea to keep this project out and work on it over the course of a couple days.

4.  I pinned down the mitered edges.

5.   I then went ahead and used the sewing machine to sew it all down, using the red thread that was already in the machine at the time.

6.  After  using the iron one more time around the sides of the square, you have your final product.  You’ll be wiping your hands on your pants in no time.

I am really excited about how my dinner napkins turned out, and happy to finally have a good sized collection of re-usable dinner napkins to have around the kitchen!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 10:56 am

    Using old clothes is a good idea! I just got a serger and I’m so excited because I don’t have to miter the corners of things, I can just do a rolled hem. It doesn’t look quite as pretty but it’s fast. I am definitely going to see what shirts and pants and things I can cut up for napkins.

    • February 22, 2011 8:22 pm

      Using a serger would be great! If they’re just napkins for everyday, then they don’t have to be super fancy anyway, you know?- that would cut down the time immensely!

  2. Andy permalink
    February 22, 2011 2:54 pm

    NO!!!! Not the DU Alpine Club shirts!!!

    • February 22, 2011 8:24 pm

      Lol! This way I get to see my DU Alpine club shirt every day, except just every once in a while as pajamas- they’ll be a conversation starter! 🙂

  3. February 22, 2011 6:33 pm

    This is such an awesome idea! I would love to feature it on my blog, Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Great idea!

    • February 22, 2011 8:26 pm

      Thanks- I’m glad you like it! I’d be honored if you featured it on your blog 🙂

  4. February 26, 2011 2:01 pm

    Erin, this is a fabulous idea! This will be the fourth year that I no longer use paper napkins in my home. Now I think I may be ready to make my own! Thanks for the idea! (By the way, I love your blog!)

  5. February 26, 2011 6:14 pm

    This is a great idea for some really unique napkins!

    I would love if you came and linked this project to the new page I’ve set up to try and pull together the great tutorials and ideas for upycling clothes that I’m finding.
    It’s not just a weekly linky party – but a page that will remain as a link to your project all the time!
    Do come and take a look!

  6. February 26, 2011 6:20 pm

    Just FYI the feature will go up on the 28. Come by and grab a featured button.


  7. March 11, 2011 9:42 am

    This is a great idea. and what better to wipe your mouth or hands on than your clothes, lol.

    I would love if you linked this up to my weekly party, and you might be featured for a whole week on my blog,,, 🙂

    Come say hi sometime!! Bella Before and After , and if you want to win an Avocado Painting, come enter myGIVEAWAY HERE, I really appreciate the support.

    Bella 🙂

  8. Netta permalink
    March 30, 2011 1:33 pm

    I love this idea! You have no idea how many shirts I have left over from sorority life. As soon as I learn how to use a sewing machine, I’m doing this 🙂


  1. How to make recycled clothing dinner napkins · Recycled Crafts |

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